It’s a short flight. I am just waking up from a nap, feeling that familiar whiplash caused by sleeping in a position other than supine. I creak and crank my head to the side to face my friend across the aisle. Her eyes are widening like two puddles of spilled milk.
“How have you been sleeping through this?” She accuses me, gripping the armrests as though they are her children and she is terrified of losing them in the terror. The plane, concerned that I might question the validity of her angst, obligingly rushes the bad weather like a bull, jabbing, wobbling, plunging.
Suddenly the entire preceding week seems worthy of only a garbage disposal. The woman in front of us begins wailing like some caricature version of herself. The flight attendants careen down the aisle, attempting to cloak their naked fear with calm faces. We are going to die. They know it. I know it.
We are praying now. Frightened prayers, humble prayers, angry prayers, genuine prayers. Without ceasing.
And then…the tires grip the pavement. The seat belt light goes off. Everyone gets up. Grabbing at bags. Gabbing into cell phones. Cutting in line. Cramming through doorways.
It is early morning, and the sun is shining.